Create your Polkadot accounts with any of the secure and user-friendly wallet listed on the Polkadot website.
See the Wallets section for more information about different wallet options available, and specifically the wallets and extensions page, which lists the user friendly wallet projects funded by the Polkadot/Kusama Treasuries or by the Web3 Foundation Grants Program.
This document covers the basics of Polkadot accounts. See the Advanced Account page for more information about accounts such as account derivation and indices. For a more in-depth explanation of the cryptography behind Polkadot accounts, please see the cryptography page.
📄️ Account Abstraction
Polkadot's Native Account Abstraction.
📄️ Account Identity
On-chain Identity, Judgements and Registrars.
📄️ Multi-Signature Accounts
Multi-signature Accounts on Polkadot.
📄️ Proxy Accounts
Proxy Accounts on Polkadot.
📄️ Pure Proxy Accounts
Pure Proxy Accounts on Polkadot.
An address is the public part of a Polkadot account. The private part is the key used to access this address. The public and private parts together make up a Polkadot account. You can think of the public address of your account, like your mailbox and the private key like the key to open that mailbox. Anybody can send mail to your mailbox, but only you can access it as only you have access to its key. In the context of Polkadot accounts, anybody can send tokens to your public address, but only you can transact with them using your private key. That is why you should keep your private key secret.
Mnemonic Seed Phrase
A user's account requires a private key that can sign on to one of the supported curves and signature schemes. Without a private key, an account cannot sign anything. In Polkadot there are some exceptions of accounts that do not have known private keys (i.e. keyless accounts). Such accounts are multi-signature accounts, pure proxies, and system accounts that are not discussed here and are meant for an advanced audience.
A typical 12-word mnemonic seed phrase is shown below.
'caution juice atom organ advance problem want pledge someone senior holiday very'
Its corresponding private/public keypair is also shown.
Secret seed (Private key): 0x056a6a4e203766ffbea3146967ef25e9daf677b14dc6f6ed8919b1983c9bebbc
Public key (SS58): 5F3sa2TJAWMqDhXG6jhV4N8ko9SxwGy8TpaNS1repo5EYjQX
Polkadot default address format is the
MultiAddress type. This means the same mnemonic phrase will
generate public keys for different parachains. For more information, see the
Address Format section on the
Advanced Account page.
Usually, there are two ways of generating a mnemonic seed:
- On a "hot" device, i.e. a device that is connected to the internet
- On a "cold" device, i.e. a device that is not (and ideally will never be) connected to the internet
Hot wallets are susceptible to a wide range of attacks, so it is recommended to use cold wallets when dealing with non-trivial amounts of funds.
Generating a mnemonic seed on a browser extension or a mobile application will create a hot key or hot wallet. Create your Polkadot accounts with a secure and user-friendly wallet listed on the Polkadot website. See also the Wallets section for more information about wallets and the wallets and extensions page for wallets and browser extensions funded by the Polkadot/Kusama Treasuries or by the Web3 Foundation Grants Program.
Cold keys are generated on special devices such as those provided by Ledger. Additionally, you can generate your account using the Polkadot Vault mobile app (you need a dedicated air-gapped Android or iOS-compatible smartphone that you are comfortable using only for Polkadot Vault), or a dedicated hardware implementation of Polkadot Vault such as the Kampela Signer.
Usually, browser extensions and mobile devices have options to securely import accounts from cold wallets. Note that the private keys of those accounts will remain on the cold wallet, meaning that you will always need the device to sign any transaction. Exceptions exist where you can generate hot wallet based proxy accounts and sign on behalf of a cold wallet account without connecting the cold device. This is practical, especially for transactions made frequently.
Backing Up Accounts
Depending on what software you use to access your account, there are various ways to back up and restore your account. It is a good idea to back your information up and keep it secure. In general, as long as you know how you created your account and have the mnemonic seed phrase or the JSON backup file (and password) stored securely, you can restore your account.
Existential Deposit and Reaping
Visit this support page for more information about existential deposit.
When you generate an account (address), you only generate a key that lets you access it. The account does not exist yet on-chain. For that, it needs the existential deposit of .
Having an account go below the existential deposit causes that account to be reaped. The account will be wiped from the blockchain's state to conserve space, along with any funds in that address. You do not lose access to the reaped address - as long as you have your private key or recovery phrase, you can still use the address - but it needs a top-up of another existential deposit to be able to interact with the chain.
Transaction fees cannot cause an account to be reaped. Since fees are deducted from the account before any other transaction logic, accounts with balances equal to the existential deposit cannot construct a valid transaction. Additional funds will need to be added to cover the transaction fees.
Here's another way to think about existential deposits. Ever notice those
Thumbs.db files on
.DS_Store files on Mac? Those are junk; they serve no specific purpose other than
making previews a bit faster. If a folder is empty saved for such a file, you can remove the folder
to clear the junk off your hard drive. That does not mean you will lose access to this folder
forever - you can always recreate it. You have the key, after all - you're the computer's owner.
It just means you want to keep your computer clean until you maybe need this folder again and
recreate it. Your address is like this folder - it gets removed from the chain when nothing is in it
but gets put back when it has the existential deposit.
Account Balance Types
In Polkadot there are different types of balance depending on the account activity. Different balance types indicate whether your balance can be used for transfers, to pay fees, or must remain frozen and unused due to an on-chain requirement. Below is an example that displays different balance types on the Polkadot-JS UI (wallet) of a Kusama account (note that the balance types are the same for a Polkadot account).
- The total balance indicates the total number of tokens in the account. Note that this number does not necessarily correspond to the tokens you can transfer. In the example, the total number of tokens is 0.6274 KSM. The transferrable balance indicates the number of free tokens to be transferred. This is calculated by subtracting the number of locked and reserved tokens from the total number of tokens. Locked funds correspond to tokens used in staking, governance, and vested transfers (see below). In the example, the transferrable balance is 0.0106 KSM.
- The vested balance indicates tokens sent to the account and released with a specific time schedule. The account owns the tokens, but they are locked and become available for transfer after a specific number of blocks. In the example, the vested balance is 0.25 KSM.
- The bonded balance indicates the number of tokens that are locked for on-chain participation to staking. In the example, the bonded balance is 0.4 KSM.
- The democracy balance indicates the number of tokens that are locked for on-chain participation in democracy (i.e. voting for referenda and council). In the example, the democracy balance is 0.4 KSM.
- The redeemable balance indicates the number of tokens ready to be unlocked to become transferrable again. Those tokens already went through the unbonding period. In this case, the redeemable balance is 0.1 KSM.
- The locked balance indicates the number of frozen tokens for on-chain participation to staking and democracy or for vested transfers. Locks do not stack, which means that if you have different locks the total locked balance is not the addition of all single locks. Instead, the biggest lock decides the total locked balance. In the example, the locked balance is 0.55 KSM because the biggest lock is on democracy (0.55 KSM).
- The reserved balance indicates the number of tokens that are frozen for on-chain activity other than staking, governance, and vested transfers. Such activity can be setting an identity or a proxy. Reserved funds are held due to on-chain requirements and can usually be freed by taking some on-chain action. For example, the "Identity" pallet reserves funds while an on-chain identity is registered, but by clearing the identity, you can unreserve the funds and make them free again. The same applies to proxies. The idea is that those actions require some network memory usage that is not given for free. In the example, we created a governance proxy, and the reserved funds for this are 0.0668 KSM.
If you are an advanced user, see the Polkadot-JS guides about accounts.